Sunday, September 4, 2016

All the Things


Thanks to the brilliance of a one Mr. David Haysom, I have suddenly found myself teaching a whole heapload of the writings of an American poet named Elizabeth Bishop. And this go-round teaching poetry has very closely followed my experience with it in the past: I begin not being very enthusiastic (at least internally) about the prospect, and then I dive in and enjoy the initial biography-reading, but then I don't feel very qualified or knowledgeable about teaching my students how to pull apart a poem, but then once we get into this piece or that, I rediscover why poetry is worth studying: it's beautiful. And it makes me want to...write? Create? Live fully? Read more, at least. And it's good. Even if my students have not reached that place yet. Elizabeth Bishop: a tip of the cap to you, ma'am. And to you, Mr. Haysom, for her inclusion in the DPLA syllabus. I hope John Donne, Derek Walcott, and Emily Dickinson can keep pace with EB.


I feel like I have fallen in love with the sky in the past week, and in the past years. Maybe when I was young nothing was happening in the heavens above Iowa and Minnesota, but most likely I was too young and focused on what terrestrial things were in front of me to notice. When I moved to Seoul, I know for sure I started to appreciate the blue of the sky, when walking above the center of the city on my way to or from school, and then coming to Beijing...I developed an intense appreciation for anything cool and clear happening above me. Not only is Beijing polluted most of the time, but even when it's not, there just aren't that many clouds in the sky. So when there are, and they are set in a cast of clear atmosphere, I notice and smile. And although today the AQI rocketed back up to it's typical 150-200 level, the heavens over Beijing in the previous nine days have been pristine, stimulating, and rare.


Boxes of wedding-decorating materials have begun arriving at the apartment I am currently occupying. I am not going to open them yet; I haven't the jurisdiction. But they are arriving. Soon each box's content will be methodically strewn about a certain joint not too far from here, commemorating one of the biggest events I can hope to experience in this life o' mine. And these boxes, I think that they are going to keep coming; one is supposed to arrive this afternoon, and I am waiting for it here, at home. They'll keep on arriving all the way up until when the most intriguing ReubEllen wedding-bound items arrive in Beijing on the afternoon of September 25 (the Haggar family).


They pour in, drawn to my inbox like flies to a forgotten peach in the back of a classroom over the summer (Did that really happen?). They are from everywhere, from tenth grade students who want this teacher or that to be their personal project supervisor, from folks I have met only a few times but who want to talk forensics, from staff members concerning school events that have been e-mailed about five times, from other teachers abusing the all-MYP e-mail option, from my mom, who has mixed up my work e-mail address with my personal one. All of much consequence, all of little. This year I have vowed to deal with all e-mails "at once," so that they don't sit in my inbox and in the back of my mind senselessly chewing up energy and time. Bring 'em on.


From one house to another; it's a complicated matter. While all my Chinese-based possessions made a smooth transition in July from where I lived this winter and spring in Wangjing Xiyuan Sanqu to where Ellen and I will live together after marriage in Jiuxianqiao, there is another, fuller house to be moved over here. Slowly, slowly, every time I spend time at Ellen's, I have been taking something - something! - back to our new home with me. Sometimes the "something" has been two massive suitcases full of books. Sometimes it has been two small teddy bears, one of which was wearing a Twins hat. Most of the time it has been something in between big and small. And there will come a day when a moving company (or Team Darkness?) helps move all the big items that I can't handle on my bike. We're moving, slowly.

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